SCHUMER PUSHES FOR FED FUNDS TO ENHANCE DOWNTOWN BUFFALO REVITALIZATION, STIMULATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ALONG PROPOSED AMHERST-BUFFALO PUBLIC TRANSIT CONNECTION – FUNDS WOULD ENABLE NFTA TO IDENTIFY AREAS FOR PRIVATE INVESTMENT
Planned Connection Between Buffalo & Amherst Opens Up New Opportunities for Economic Development Along Corridor – Schumer Pushes for Funds Through Fed Transportation Authority to Pave Way for Economic Development & Private Investment
Schumer Has Long Fought to Improve Transit Between Amherst, Three University of Buffalo Campuses, Canalside, and Other Downtown Attractions– In 2013, Following Schumer’s Push, Feds Funded Studies For Transit Improvements; Now, Funds Would Help Develop Lands Surrounding Proposed Transit Improvements
Schumer: Future Link Between Buffalo and Amherst Has Untapped Potential for Economic Growth
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched his push to secure over $600,000 in federal funding for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) to identify private investment and economic development opportunities that will complement the transit expansion currently planned from Amherst to Buffalo. Schumer said that bringing public transit to the Buffalo-Amherst corridor will open up new economic development opportunities, and Schumer is pushing for federal funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning to explore how best to take advantage.
Schumer explained that the federal funds would enable the NFTA to begin identifying areas for private investment and economic development in the area surrounding the proposed transit improvements. Schumer’s push for funding follows his successful push in 2013 to secure funding for the NFTA to study connecting the Medical Campus and downtown Buffalo to Amherst and other northern destinations.
“Developing the Amherst-to-Buffalo transit corridor will allow residents, students, visitors, and commuters to travel easily between the suburbs, UB’s three campuses, Canalside, the HarborCenter, First Niagara Center, and other downtown attractions that are contributing to the transformation of this great city. That is why I aim to secure these federal transit-planning funds, which will allow the NFTA to pursue further private investments and coordinate planning activities that will get this critical infrastructure and economic development project underway,” said Schumer. “Last year, I pushed for the Federal Transit Administration to allow the NFTA to take advantage of the newly expedited review process for transportation projects. Now, we are a year closer to a sensible system that connects Buffalo and Amherst, and we should not waste a moment in planning for new projects and developments to complement that investment.”
“The NFTA's mission is to help residents in communities throughout the region connect to good jobs, quality healthcare, and educational opportunities they need to succeed through efficient transportation options,” said Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA Executive Director. “With all the exciting economic development that is occurring in our region, now is the time to invest in coordinated planning and development to further this mission.”
In 2011, with Schumer’s support the NFTA was awarded an Alternative Analysis grant to study transit improvements and enhancements in the Buffalo-Amherst corridor. Then in 2013, Schumer fought to get this comprehensive study underway and secured agreement from the FTA that allowed the Buffalo-Amherst corridor project to complete the federal Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Study simultaneously. The current TOD proposal would support the study of land use around the proposed transit improvements, and would identify areas for private investment and economic development to enhance the transit expansion from Amherst to Buffalo.
The effort is an example of Senator Schumer’s continued effort to support the revitalization of downtown Buffalo. Connectivity for residents to new downtown attractions will be key to continuing the recent transformation. Vicinity and connection to the existing light rail line has contributed to the success of developments such as the ever-growing Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the UB School of Medicine, Canalside, the First Niagara Center, and the recently-opened HarborCenter. This study will identify new opportunities to expand development further north along the rail line, as well identify areas to fill in existing growth, helping to make downtown Buffalo not only an attractive destination for new companies, but also making it easier for residential development and growth.
Schumer said the NFTA has applied for $640,765 in federal funding through the Transit-Oriented Development Planning program. The NFTA has also secured funds through the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC), Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). The total cost of the project is estimated to be $873,957. The proposed work would establish a collaborative forum and engage elected officials, private developers, and other public and private sector players through working groups to coordinate planning activities and set performance measures for the level of engagement in the planning process. This kind of planning is necessary, Schumer said, because the Buffalo-Amherst Corridor currently has a lack of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) information for the areas surrounding the proposed transit enhancements. The analysis resulting from this study would ultimately be disseminated to the general public and local organizations through these forums to increase knowledge and gather community input on TOD. Project work would begin in July 2015 and be complete by July 2017.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the FTA appears below:
Dear Acting Administrator McMillan:
I am pleased to write in support of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s application for funding under the Federal Transit Administration’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning.
In 2013, the NFTA was awarded an Alternative Analysis grant to study transit improvements and enhancements in the Buffalo-Amherst corridor. The City of Buffalo, the Town of Amherst, Erie County, and the New York State Department of Transportation have all partnered together to support the expansion of public transit in the Buffalo-Amherst corridor, which would spur greater economic development, increase accessibility, save energy, and promote safety for residents and businesses in the area. The current TOD proposal would support the study of land use around the proposed transit improvements, and would identify areas for private investment and economic development to enhance the transit expansion from Amherst to Buffalo. With funding, the applicants would undertake comprehensive planning work that informs and engages the community and sets forth policies and tools to meet measurable performance goals.
The proposed work would establish a collaborative forum and engage elected officials, private developers, and other public and private sector players through working groups to coordinate planning activities and set performance measures for the level of engagement in the planning process. These groups would guide the analysis of existing conditions to address a lack of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) information. This analysis would be disseminated to the general public and local organizations through engagement forums to increase knowledge and gather community input on TOD. Armed with this information, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council would be able to target TOD infrastructure investments, policies, regulations, and innovative financing mechanisms to overcome the lack of TOD infrastructure in the corridor.
Thank you for your consideration. I applaud Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and their partners for their foresight, and I sincerely hope their application meets with your approval.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
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